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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have failed to take adequate account of the need to promote economic development along with human development, says a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
According to the Least Developed Countries Report by UNCTAD, the international community must learn from the failure of most of the poorest countries to meet the MDGs, despite registering strong economic growth.
“In the report, we say that despite Africa having very high rate of economic growth during the past decade or so, that growth has not been translated into high levels of poverty reduction and social development. And we asked ourselves why that was the case. We think it is because these countries have not focused efficiently on building on what we refer to as their productive capacities,” Junior Davis, Economic Affairs Officer at UNCTAD said.
According to Davis productive capacities refer to the basic human and economic development abilities that are needed to promote sustainable development, which the MDGs failed to include.
“The MDGs, as they were being constructed, largely ignored the need to develop productive capacities and this is why we think that Africa, although has done well in some areas, it has not done well across the board in achieving the MDGs,” he explained.
The report released on Thursday November 27 states that the Least Developed Countries (LDC) are the battleground on which the post 2015 development agendas will be won or lost. The success will depend on action by the international community and the LDCs structurally transform their economies and break the vicious circle of human and economic development that has trapped these countries into poverty.
“So we look at things like rural development, including the level of productivity in industry and agriculture and the service sector. We also look at ways in which we can have encouraging pattern of growth in which is not just sustainable but also job rich. We have seen that jobs and employment along with growth are essential to any developing strategies that aim to reduce poverty,” Davis said
He also stated that countries like Ethiopia that have managed to do comparatively well in the MDGs have focused on building productive capacities. Ethiopia has invested heavily in the development of infrastructure, education and health. These investments are helping produce a sustainable form of growth and are building the productive base for the country. Most African countries don’t have the resources to do that as effectively as countries like Ethiopia.
“The MDGs mostly focus on human development; improving health, access to education and trying to reduce poverty. These are all very good things, but to be sustainable and sustainably improve these indicators, an emphasis needs to be put on building economic development and productive capacities so that the countries themselves can sustainably finance and improve all the time and reduce their dependence on overseas development assistance,” said Davis.
These things are very important in promoting structural transformation of countries. The MDGs needed to consider the needs of Least Developed Countries to structurallytransform as well as the need to make economic development sustainable to provide the necessary public investment, he concluded.